Highlights from an Epic Year of Travel

Vik Beach, Iceland

I seriously can’t believe we’re in the last week of 2016. Where did the year go?

Before jumping headfirst into travel plans for next year (Okay, it’s a little late for that. Dublin, we’re coming for you!), Sam and I wanted to take a moment to look back on all the places our travels took us in 2016.

Despite working full-time with only a few vacation weeks per year, we are amazed by how many places we were able to tick off our bucket list!

Here’s a quick recap of 2016 in travel:

Chattanooga, TN


Chattanooga is a quick drive from where we live in Atlanta, but this was the first time we’d ever taken the time to explore it.

We loved the artsy vibe in the city, the great coffee shops, and having easy access to the mountains.

I also ate the best flourless chocolate cake of my life at a bakery in downtown Chattanooga. It may have been the most delicious thing I’ve ever consumed, and I doubt anything will ever top it. Tragically, neither of us can remember the bakery’s name.

Further Reading: 7 Best Weekend Destinations in the Southeastern USA


A guide to driving Iceland's Golden Circle

We’d heard a lot of people rave about Iceland, and we wondered if it would live up to the hype. After all, it’s dark and cold, two things I try to avoid on vacation. Turns out, Iceland was more amazing than we could have ever imagined. We loved everything about this beautiful arctic nation.

Our favorite part of the trip was taking a road trip along Iceland’s south coast to Vik beach. The landscapes were unlike anything we’d ever seen.

Further Reading: 5 Reasons to Visit Iceland in Winter

Nashville, TN


We travelled to Nashville to run the Rock n Roll Half Marathon. Unfortunately, Sam and I both came down with wicked colds shortly before race day, and things went downhill from there.

Not easily deterred, we decided to load up on cold meds and run anyway. We managed to hobble across the finish line and directly to the medical tent where I was hooked up to an IV and had my heart rate monitored for an hour.

And it rained.

While Nashville is a lovely city, our memories from that trip are not exactly warm and fuzzy.

Washington, DC

Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC

After finally finishing grad school, Sam and I flew up to Washington for the weekend to celebrate. We spent our time visiting as many museums and monuments as we could.

Despite near constant rain and the fact that I contracted the stomach flu on day two, I’m glad we finally had the opportunity to visit our nation’s capital.

St. Louis, MO 

Saint Louis, MO

I visited St. Louis on a work trip without Sam. And while I spent most of my time in a conference center, I did manage to catch a Cardinal’s game and a glimpse of the Gateway Arch.

 Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles was another work trip for me without Sam. While I was in the area, I squeezed in a visit to the newly-opened Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood and a quick trip to the beach.

Further Reading: What to do in Los Angeles (Besides Disneyland)

 Jekyll Island, GA

Jekyll Island, GA

For a cheap summer escape, Sam and I spent a weekend camping on Jekyll Island. We passed the days on the beach and the evenings roasting marshmallows at our campsite.

We enjoyed ourselves despite the fact that Sam’s wedding ring ended up at the bottom of the ocean during an ill-fated kayak excursion.

Paris, FranceWhat to Wear in Europe

Of all the cities I’ve visited, Paris is still my favorite. From exploring Montmartre to watching the Eiffel Tower glitter from atop the Arc de Triomphe, our time in Paris was pure magic.

Further Reading: 15 Experiences You Must Have in Paris

Barcelona, Spain

Park Guell

Our hotel in Barcelona was located in the heart of the Gothic Quarter, and we loved being in the middle of the action. We spent most of our time in Barcelona gaping at Antoni Gaudí’s architectural masterpieces.

Further Reading: Best Things to do in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter 

Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

Our first experience in Rome was climbing out of the metro station and finding ourselves face to face with the Colosseum. Best metro stop ever.

We spent the next three days visiting as many historic sites as possible while stuffing our faces with pizza, pasta, and gelato.

Further Reading: What to Expect When Attending the Opera in Rome

 Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio

We only spent 6 hours in Florence on our way from Rome to Venice, but the gelato we ate at Vivoli alone made the stop worth the hassle. Seeing the statue of David was pretty incredible too, even though we got drenched while waiting in line.

Watch Next: (Video) A Journey Through Europe

Venice, Italy


Canals, accordions, friendly gondoliers. It’s no wonder Venice is counted among the most romantic cities on earth. Venice was our last stop on a jam-packed 16-day trip through Europe, so we enjoyed spending a few days leisurely roaming its narrow streets and floating along the canals.

Further Reading: A Laid-Back Weekend Guide to Venice

Asheville, NC

Asheville, NC

We spent a weekend in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville as part of a work trip. When we weren’t working, we enjoyed hiking amid the changing fall colors.

Destin, FL 

Destin, FL

Each year we spend a long weekend with my family at a friend’s beachfront condo in Destin, Florida. It is always the most relaxing trip of our year since we spend most of our time lounging in a beach chair with a good book.

Savannah, GA

Savannah, GA

Occasionally Sam’s work takes him to Savannah, and I love to tag along. Savannah is full of southern charm, historic buildings, and really great food.

 Comfort, NC 

Comfort, NC

Our final trip of the year was to Sam’s Uncle’s farm in North Carolina for Thanksgiving. We don’t have the chance to visit his relatives often, so Thanksgiving is a great time to catch up and eat way too much amazing food.

Here is a quick recap of our year:

Follow Maple & Maps on Youtube to see more of our travel adventures. 

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